General issues: District of New South Wales 1850-1851, British colony 1851-1855, British colony/Self government 1855-1901, Australian state 1901-1913
Country name on general issues: Victoria, none
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1850-1913
Population: 348 500 in 1856, 1 315 000 in 1911
Political history Victoria
Victoria is located in southeast Australia. Prior to colonization, Victoria was inhabited by Aboriginal peoples who were organized in small bands. The first European to explore Victoria was the British explorer James Cook in 1770. The first settlement was established in 1803, but abandoned in 1804. Permanent settlement started in the 1830’s, when settlers came to Victoria from Tasmania and from present day New South Wales. These settlers were pastoralists, bringing sheep to Victoria for the most important product of the time, wool. As the settlers required ever more land, conflicts with the Aboriginal population turned into a guerrilla type war that lasted until the 1840’s. The discovery of gold led to a gold rush in the 1850’s, and a rapid increase in the population – the population grew from 76 000 in 1850 to over 500 000 in 1860. The wealth acquired from the gold made Melbourne, the capital, a major financial center and the largest city of the time in Australia.
Politically Victoria was part of the British colony of New South Wales, that, when established in 1788, encompassed all of Australia east of the current border of Western Australia. Victoria formed the district of Port Phillip. In 1851 Victoria was established as a separate colony and, as such, gained self government in 1855. Victoria joined the federal dominion of Australia – officially the Commonwealth of Australia – in 1901. Melbourne became the federal capital until 1927, when the federal government was moved to Canberra. Victoria is an Australian state until today.
Economically, the first significant activity was the production of wool. Wheat was added in the course of the 19th century. Funded by the proceeds of the 1850’s gold rush, manufacturing took off in the late 19th century. Modern day Victoria has a diversified economy, with services as the most important sector. Victoria has, after New South Wales, the second largest GDP of the Australian states.
The indigenous population decreased in number rapidly in the 19th century – currently, Aboriginals account for 1% of the population of Victoria. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the vast majority of the immigrants came from the British Isles – a minority being of Chinese descent. After WWII, immigrants from other European countries followed. In recent years, immigration from Asian countries has increased significantly. In today’s Victoria, 28% of the population are first generation immigrants. Victoria is highly urbanized, with 75% of the population living in the Melbourne metropolitan area. Victoria is Australia’s second most populous state, after New South Wales.
Postal history Victoria
The first stamps were issued for Victoria in 1850, while still a part of New South Wales. The stamps feature a sitting Queen Victoria. Until 1851, the stamps of Victoria were used concurrent with the issues of New South Wales. In 1852 a further stamp was issued – now with Queen Victoria on the throne. Stamps issued, until 1900, all feature the portrait of Queen Victoria in a range of different frames – some of the issues are square shaped. In 1900 postal tax stamps were issued to support the Victorian army, which was participating in the Second Boer War. Between 1901 and 1913, stamps were issued with the portrait of King Edward VII. Revenue stamps were admitted for postal use between 1870 and 1901. The stamps of Western Australia were superseded by the issues of the Australian Commonwealth in 1913.
The earlier issues were produced by various printers resulting in a wide range of varieties in print and perforation. Furthermore, the watermarks are found in different positions on the stamps. Of the single 1852 issue alone 50 varieties are known. Collecting early Victoria is a domain for specialists.